New user, please help me think through the best sync setup for me:

I’m loking for advice on the best way to use DT3. I want to migrate from Evernote, mostly because I want to keep the data completely under my control (don’t want it living on company servers). I need to be able to access the data from a variety of machines on my LAN, and ideally, from my iPhone when traveling (outside the LAN). My specific questions:

  1. If I run a server and keep my database on my own Mac, are there any data that DT3 sends outside? For example, could I completely block access of DT3 to the WAN (via my firewall) and it would still run properly?
  2. What exactly is it using the Dropbox folder for - does it keep a copy of the database there? My whole Evernote database is about 4GB, and I did an import into DT3. I now see 2 files in Dropbox: packet sync (2.8 GB) and Devonthink (3.1 GB). Are those copies of my actual database? And if so, are they encrypted, or is this basically the equivalent of letting Dropbox have my data instead of Evernote?
  3. if I turn off the Dropbox sync, can I still use direct connection (inside my LAN)? But I guess the Dropbox sync is needed to connect when I’m outside the LAN?

thank you in advance!


First: stop trying to compare with DEVONthink Evernote. Two completely different products that handle data differently, including synching.

Second: Get copies and read the outstanding Manual for DEVONthink and the free-of-charge e-book from DEVON Technologies “Taking Control of DEVONthink 3” from the DEVON Technologies web site. Start with the latter, but read the former also.

Third: For synching setup, see page 55 of the Manual for “Sync”

Rather than answer your detailed questions–which doing so will probably get us into a rabbit hole–recommend, based on what I infer from what you say.

a. Setup a local sync using Bonjour (see manual) for when you are inside your local network. Bonjour sync the fastest. Read carefully how to turn on “accept incoming” on only one device (your desktop?).

b. To support your access while outside the local network, setup a Dropbox sync (see manual)

c. No need to turn on or off syncing. DEVONthink will always sync with with what it finds accessible.

On the iPhone, only sync those databases that you really need on the iPhone. Do not clog up the device with stuff. Take note that the first sync will take the time it takes. Do not compare sync times with what you noticed in Evernote. Doing completely different things using different technology.


Great advice. Thanks for posting. I am frequently referring to the two books/manuals you mention, and taking time to get DT/DTTG working for me.

Regarding syncing to iPhone - sound advice unless you want a complete replica of DT on your phone. I don’t, some folk will though.


It seems you’ve stored the local database in Dropbox. Please, allow me to shout to you: Don’t do that!!! Databases must be local. You can “index” files out of your database, and those files can be in a Dropbox folder, but if you put your database in a shared location, you are risking all your data.

DT has the concept of “sync database” (you see it as “packet sync” in your Dropbox). That is the only thing that must be in Dropbox, and you can “remove” from your local Dropbox folders via “Selective Sync” in Dropbox configuration.

The “sync database” is what is used to sync between DT/DTTG installations if not Bonjour is used.

However, you are talking not to live in another server… and you have put your database (remove it immediately!!!) and your sync database in Dropbox, another company. For external sync other than Bonjour, I recommend a owned WebDAV server, what is I’m using installed in my NAS. My sync database is near half Terabyte and works perfect.

You must, really you must to move your database into local folder. Recommended place is inside Databases folder in your home, that DT should have created for you. Entirely close DT (CMD-Q) and move to that folder your dtBase2 bundle.

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Your shouting :slight_smile: (justified) should be addressed to @mlevin77 (I chose to ignore all the details in the post, perhaps should not have).

That warning is also highlighted in the Manual so by now @mlevin77 will hopefully have read, understood, and taken corrective action!

Sorry, you’re right. :sweat_smile:

Please, @mlevin77, take car of our advice.

This is my first conversation on this (or any forum) and I am not sure what you mean by ‘shouting’. If that means I have offended someone, i apologise. Maybe I won’t post again, just observe.

Hope mlevin77 got to read my response.

Welcome @IanFarrar
Thanks for sharing your thoughts and your support if the documentation :slight_smile:

Message directed not at you but to the justified “shout out” by @rfog to the OP to move the databases off Dropbox!! :slight_smile:

First, thank you everyone for taking the time to advise me! I’m working through the manuals. Now,

It seems you’ve stored the local database in Dropbox.

I do not have it in my Dropbox, as far as I can see. My .dtBase2 bundles are in a local folder, not synchronized by Dropbox. What I was asking is, whether the information that DT does put in Dropbox (Dropbox/DEVONthink and Dropbox/DEVONthink Packet Sync folders) is basically the equivalent of handing parts of my database over to the Dropbox company. This might be in the manual, and I apologize for dumb questions if this is all addressed there, but I was asking about what kind of info DT is passing through Dropbox. If my goal is to keep the data entirely between my own machines (nothing on anyone else’s server), is letting it sync through Dropbox ok or not. Those folders are large (GB) and so it seems like there is actual significant data being kept in Dropbox by DT?

First: stop trying to compare with DEVONthink Evernote.

I understand these are different programs and I am not expecting them to do everything the same way. But, in considering whether I can/should move from Evernote to DT, it is natural to compare the functionality to be able to decide whether this is a move I want to make.

For external sync other than Bonjour, I recommend a owned WebDAV server, what is I’m using installed in my NAS.

I would love to hear more, although I will digest the manuals first. I have a NAS (QNAP device) and if running the WebDAV server there is a good way to access the database from all my devices in the LAN (and also from my iPhone even when outside my LAN), that sounds great.

It’s not a good way.

DEVONthink databases are NOT shareable in a multi-user type of way.

Store the databases on local drives. Then on each machine where want to have a sync-ed copy, setup sync.

All in the Manual.

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Understand. Thanks.

If you’ve set an encryption password when adding the remote sync, it encrypts all your data stored in their servers and data stored in Dropbox is garbage for anyone outside your DT installation.

I have a Synology, and I think QNAP will be the same. What I have is the WebDAV service enabled only via HTTPS with a Let’s Encrypt auto-renewed certificate (a thing that my Synology does automagically). I’ve redirected 5006 port of my router to the NAS, then the WebDAV server is externally accessible. My sync store is a) encrypted by Synology disk encryption base in a separated volume, and b) encrypted with DT encryption stuff. That way if someone stole my NAS, he won’t be able to mount the encrypted volume and if someone is able to enter in my WebDAV devonthink directory, he will see garbage files. Of course, it is protected with a DT only account for that volume plus it is not really 5006 port what I’ve set in my server.

However, I think you need first be comfortable with DT sync features before enter in this kind of stuff.

PS: Sorry about the “shout” word. I wanted to make emphasis in not storing your DB in Dropbox.